Although relationships have been found between maternal psychological characteristics and cognitive and emotional outcomes in children, the behaviors which may mediate these relationships are seldom examined. This is especially true for adolescent mothers, whose children are thought to be at high risk for adverse outcomes. In this study, adolescent mothers in two special programs completed questionnaires measuring perception of the newborn (Neonatal Perception Inventory), knowledge of influences on child development (Infant Caregiving Inventory), and emotional state (General Health Questionnaire); they were also systematically observed while interacting with their infants in a naturalistic situation. Specific maternal behaviors were found to vary with the age of the mother and of the baby. Mothers with neutral or negative perceptions of their infants touched them less than did mothers with positive perceptions. Degree of emotional disturbance was inversely related to the amount of time that the mother looked at her infant while in physical contact.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)